A U.K.-based screenwriter is suing Disney and Pixar for copyright infringement and breach of implied contract, claiming that Cars and Cars 2 are based on a story and characters he submitted circa 1993.
In his lawsuit* filed March 14 in U.S. federal court, Jake Mandeville-Anthony alleges that "he sent copies of his works to various production companies, including Disney" and "met in person" with Jim Morris, then an executive at Lucasfilm, and gave him copies of his project.
(Morris, of course, joined Pixar in 2005 and was named General Manager and Executive Vice President of Production in September 2008.)
Mandeville-Anthony says in his complaint that he sees overwhelming similarities between his creation and the Cars franchise. Thus, he's seeking an injunction to stop the release of Cars 2 on June 24. Super timing, don't you think?
The Hollywood Reporter's Hollywood, Esq. blog, which broke the story a few hours ago, reports that Mandeville-Anthony recently sued Disney/Pixar in the U.K. The judgement in that case is sealed, suggesting that one of the parties views it as being prejudicial to future civil cases.
The only thing I can say about all this is, Not again. It seems that with every Pixar film somebody comes out of the woodwork declaring that the studio stole their concept, with no regard for the facts.
Monsters, Inc. is a prime example. A seemingly well-meaning social worker by the name of Lori Madrid, encouraged by friends and relatives, sued Pixar with a similar story and also sought a preliminary injunction to stop that film from being released.
Pete Docter, as director and co-writer, had to take the stand literally hours before Monsters, Inc. was scheduled to open on November 2, 2001 to defend his own integrity and that of the studio.
The presiding judge refused to issue the order. He later dismissed the entire lawsuit, ruling that the film didn't have anything in common with Madrid's work, apart from some general ideas that are not subject to copyright protection in the first place.
Less than a year later, another artist sued. Litigation lasted over three years, until Pixar agreed to settle out of court in order to avoid another trial.
(The cases are recounted in fascinating detail in chapter nine of David A. Price's The Pixar Touch.)
As for Cars, director John Lasseter has never been coy about his inspiration. He's loved cars since since he was kid. His dad worked at a Chevy dealership. After a road trip through America in 2000, Lasseter finally settled on a story.
*The case is Jake Mandeville−Anthony v. The Walt Disney Company et al, 2:11-cv-02137-VBF -JEM, United States District Court, Central District of California (Western Division − Los Angeles)